Birding in Churchill- Everything you Need to Know

Birding in Churchill

Pack your bags, grab your binoculars and get ready to embark on a feathered adventure! In the summertime, Churchill becomes a migration hotspot as over two hundred different species of birds call the subarctic home. 

Regardless if you are a know-it-owl or just a fledgling birder, Churchill is truly a bird watcher's paradise you won't want to miss. We have put together a guide to help you make the most of a bird-watching adventure in Canada's North. 

What Is the Best Way To See Birds On The Tundra

Head out in a Tundra Buggy® to roam the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (CWMA), an area protected for wildlife where only those with permits can enter.

The CWMA’s protected landscape provides a prime nesting location for many of the 200-plus bird species that migrate to the Churchill area each summer. Keep your eyes peeled and binoculars ready as you roll across the tundra. You never know what feathered species could be around the next willow, bush or pond.


©Jim Baldwin

Birding Habitats Around Churchill

Birds tend to congregate in four areas of Churchill:

  • Subarctic tundra - most accessible via a Tundra Buggy to explore into the CWMA.
  • Boreal forest
  • Shoreline of the Hudson Bay
  • Lakes and ponds - such as the Granary Ponds or No Pants Lake.

What Species Can Be Spotted

Jim_Baldwin_2019_67962282_10157276834145449_3367467768399003648_o-1©Jim Baldwin

Check out our Wildlife of Churchill: Summer blog for a complete list of different wildlife species you could come across on a Summer adventure with us. Here are a few of our favourite Churchill birds as a sneak peak:

  • Bald Eagle
  • Sandhill Cranes
  • Arctic Tern
  • Pacific Loon
  • Tundra Swan
  • Willow Ptarmigan
  • King Eider Duck

Rare Favourites:

  • Ross's Gull
  • Harlequin Ducks


©Kane Gin

What to Pack for birding

  • Binoculars or a spotting scope
  • A sturdy backpack
  • A rain jacket- is always not a bad thing to have rolled up in a bag. The weather can turn quickly on the Hudson Bay and it is better to be prepared than wet! 
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Field guide. Check out the ones we recommended below
  • Camera (memory cards, lenses, camera rain cover)
  • Bug spray and bug jacket
  • Journal/ Checklist - record what birds you spot!
  • Sunglasses

Birding Resoures for Churchill:

  • Churchill Hudson Bay: A guide to Natural and Cultural Heritage by Lorraine E. Brandson. This book written by a local Churchill resident and expert is a great resource about the town and wildlife. 
  • Manitoba Birds by Andy Bezener, Ken De Smet and Gary Ross. This beautifully illustrated book is a great tool for quick and easy identification of many native Manitoba bird species. 
  • Seek App by iNaturalist. This live image recognition app is the perfect tool to have in your pocket for a Churchill adventure. Use it to identify any of the local flora and fauna.
  • Your Guide - Frontiers North Adventures offers a variety of trips with interpretative guides who will be with you every step of the adventure. Our guides and Tundra Buggy drivers are excellent resources when it comes to Churchill and local wildlife. 
  • All About Birds by the Cornell Lab is a great resource to read up and learn about nearly any species of bird.
  • E-Bird. Become a Lister (see lingo below) with the E-bird app and record your Churchill bird sightings. 

Get Familiar with the lingo

  • Lifer - First ever sighting of a bird species by an observer. Churchill is the perfect place for amateur and experienced bird nerds to spot some lifers 
  • Lister - Some birders are pretty intense about keeping track of the species they spotted and are affectionately known referred to as listers 
  • BOP - Bird of Prey
  • Tick - A new bird added to ones life list
  • Mega - A term used to refer to a rare species for the area
  • Megatick - An extremely good tick for ones list amateur or expert
  • Ornithology - Branch of zoology specific to the study of birds
  • Nemesis Bird-  A pesky species that you want and have tried to see but have not yet been able to spot
  • Spark bird - A bird species that started someone's interest in birding 
  • Twitch - To seek out a reported rare bird often traveling long distances, perhaps even traveling North to Churchill! 


©Derek Kyostia

Ethical Birding

It is always important to participate in ethical birding. The birds' needs, comfort, and well-being should always be the top priority when we are enjoying them as birders. Here are a few things you can do to bird ethically.

  • Respect boundaries and stay an appropriate distance away.
  • Avoid using call-back methods to attract birds.
  • Minimize time spent around nesting birds.

More ethical birding guidelines can be found here. 

Stay Safe

Churchill is not only a birders paradise but also a polar bear paradise. It is not advised to wander around especially outside of town without the proper safety measurements such as being accompanied by a bear guide. We recommend flocking together and joining a group trip or booking a Tundra Buggy Day tour. 


Ready to satisfy your inner bird nerd in Churchill, it’s an opportunity you don't want to let fly by. 


Header Image: ©Derek Kyostia

Contact Us

Toll Free North America
1 800 663 9832
International Phone
1 204 949 2050